In the early 20th century the Edison recorder and player were shiny new symbols of progress, and the US Presidential Candidates jumped right on the technology bandwagon. They each made a recording of a speech, and then copies were carried all over the US, and people gathered in phonograph parlors to take turns listening with headphones.

Now you can hear those same speeches.


Taft – Rights and Progress of the Negro
By today’s standards, this recording by Taft, “Rights and Progress of the Negro,” is patronizing and condescending. But in 1908 this speech was considered progressive, supporting civil rights for all.


Bryan – Guaranty of Bank Deposits
This recording deals with a financial problem that had plagued the country in 1907 — one not so dissimilar to the financial crisis facing the United States today. “The Government demands protection on its own deposits,” says Bryan. “Why should not private individuals have equal protection?”

I thought about linking directly to the audio, but the slideshow of political posters and cards adds greatly to the significance of the speeches. So go here to check it out.

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